Press "Enter" to skip to content

female jewish mystics

i’ve been slowly working through some of the works of gershom scholem, the most important scholar of jewish mysticism of the 20th century. one of his claims about what makes jewish mysticism different from non-jewish mysticism, is the remarkable absence of female mystics (ex., islam has rabia basri, christianity has hildegard of bingen, and so on).

his claim doesn’t totally sit right with me. i can think of the maiden of ludmir, chana rochel verbermacher, the only female hasidic rabbi; as well as eva frank, daughter of jacob frank, and ayesha yocheved, the last wife of shabbetai tzvi who took charge over the early dönmeh community. additionally jewish history is full of references to women practicing forms of mysticism which could be called “magic” or “witchcraft”, and practical kabbalah was historically popular among women and remains so even still in some areas. and in modern times you have the “jewitch” movement and the kohenet movement, both of which are forms of female jewish mysticism, though i don’t know much about either. and neo-chassidus/the renewal movement has seen the emergence of some female and lgbt jewish mysticism in modern times.

what scholem really means, i think, is that female mystics historically have not contributed to the “great literature” of jewish mysticism. i was wondering if this was really true, and if anyone here knew of counterexamples of female jewish mystics who may have contributed to jewish literature.

submitted by /u/dykele
[link] [comments]
Source: Reditt

%d bloggers like this: